Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Solo diciendo

-Anybody remember Marco Brambilla? Well, in 1993 he directed a sci-fi Action film satire called Demolition Man. It was Sylvester Stallone's first post-Cliffhanger comeback vehicle, and it co-starred Wesley Snipes as the villain, a pre-stardom Sandra Bullock as the girl, Nigel Hawthorne as the other villain and Denis Leary as basically himself, if he was a freedom fighter in a future dystopia. And, as big Dumb 90s Action blockbusters go, it was pretty good. With a script written by Daniel Waters, who also wrote Heathers and Hudson Hawk, there is as much emphasis on comedy and light satire as there is on setpiece action. Aldous Huxley references abound, Benjamin Bratt's character is named Alfredo Garcia, there are lots of injokes, and Brambilla never seems overwhelmed by all the whizz-bang stuff hes trying to marshall. His follow-up was Excess Baggage (1997), a silly vehicle for a then-hot Alicia Silverstone costarring Benicio Deltoro and Christopher Walken. Since then hes directed only the mini-series Dinotopia(2002) and one short in the anthology Destricted (2006). Instead of cinema he seems to have turned his attention to conceptual and visual arts. His Destricted piece, Sync, began life as an installation piece, and it edits together and overlays images and clips from dozens of filmed sex scenes, creating a new context and meaning from the result. His newest piece, Civilization, is a fascinating, dazzling video mural created for the Standard Hotel in New York (and showing in their elevators) depicting a journey upwards from hell to heaven created as a collage from hundreds of found-images from cinema. Though its on YouTube, it is best viewed on as large a screen as possible - like this Quicktime version at motionographer - and is definitely worth checking out. Quite a journey from Demolition Man...

- It is a great feeling to watch a young Director develop from film to film, becoming more accomplished with each step. Yet surprisingly rare. "Second album Syndrome" is a problem in cinema as much as music or literature. Not with Pablo Trapero. Emerging as part of the New Argentine cinema in the early years of this decade alongside the likes of Lucretia Martel, Fabian Bielinsky and Daniel Burman, Trapero has surpassed the preceding achievement with each of his four films so far. His last film, the 2006 Born & Bred is a beautiful, remarkable achievement, a precise study in grief and trauma set in stunning wintry Patagonia, which it utilizes with a potency not many young directors could match. Trapero's characters are always believable; flawed, warm, petty real people in a fascinating Argentina full of problems and compromise. His new film, Lions Den, starring his wife, Martina Gusman, played at Cannes this year to no little acclaim, and frankly, I think it looks amazing. The only question is will it get UK distribution?

- Michael Bay directing "The Great Gatsby". The perfect fusion of director and source material, obviously. Cracked.com reveal the storyboards for what would be an unmistakeable, undeniable, unshakeable masterpiece. Heres a little sample:

- One of my favourite players when I was a kid was flamboyant Belgian playmaker Enzo Scifo, mainly because he scored goals like this, which includes an embarassing air-kick, a volleyed one-two, and a sublime finish:

- A few months ago, critic Matt Zoller Seitz posted a great series of video essays on Wes Anderson at the site of the Museum of the Moving Image (he was also partly responsible for the fine essays on The Wire credit sequences I ran some months back). His latest series is on Michael Mann , starting with the centrality of Miami Vice the tv show to Mann's work and continuing with an examination of what drives the typical Mann hero. Its great stuff for anyone who appreciates Mann's work, and with three more installments due this week, its worth keeping up with.

- I saw this at Cartoon Brew, and its something of a mini-masterpiece, especially considering it was created as a thesis film by a student at the School of Visual Arts. Great design, animation and storytelling, and a nice mix of a Noirish vibe with a 50s sci-fi feel. There are tons of designs, sketches and test-demos at creator Jake Armstrong's blog, too:

- J.H. Williams III is one of the greatest artists working in mainstream comics today, with a breadth of tone and setting denied to 90% of his peers combined with a beautiful command of line (in a unique style) and great storytelling chops. In saying all that, however, perhaps his greatest talent is his sense of design. Evident in his adventurous panel layouts and his cover work, its boldness and fluidity ensures his art never looks like the work of anyone else and always looks glorious.
Below is a Jonah Hex cover, purely because I love me some Jonah Hex, but Williams has a decent website with a blog and a link to his flickr page where you can view loads of his work, including pencils, sketches, pin-ups, covers, etc. Beautiful stuff.

-Evan Dando, whose genius for a lovely pop song is generally overlooked due to his history of being a junkie mess, is these days quite an active YouTube poster under the name PelicanMouse. A few nice cover versions in there, mostly just Dando and guitar, a format in which he excels. My favourite Dando cover on YouTube, however, is this Lemonheads take on Abba's "Knowing Me, Knowing You", a song seemingly forever ruined by Steve Coogan. But no, Dando's interpretation wrings all the melancholy beauty from it without sacrificing the Ah-hah moment, which is a testament to his talent:

Diane Lane.

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